Turkey: Oven to Soup in 1000 words

Kiersten’s Question:

Posted by Kirky

Would you please post your turkey soup recipe, starting with the used-to-be a turkey mess? I’d love to learn how to do this!


My long winded Answer:

First a huge disclaimer. I make no pretense that this is the “right” way to take a turkey from carving board to soup. I was never taught the “right” way. (Or if my mother taught me I didn’t pay attention.) My method is just what I’ve fallen into over the years of turkey cooking. I’m sure it is quirky and not at all professional, but it works for me.

Once all the nice lunch meat, and the less neatly sliced “casserole meat” is off the frame, I set up a station with a trash can, a large stockpot (mine’s either 16 or 20 quarts), and a gallon sized ziplock bag within easy reach.

Pulling up my sleeves, I begin “sorting” the turkey. De-meated bones go in the stockpot. Gristle, cartilage, and fat go in the trash can. Bits of soup meat go into the ziplock.

When I’ve pulled all I can off the frame for this round, I pull the bones apart, smash them down in the pot, cover them with water, and set them boiling for 3-6 hours (or until nearly bedtime.) The ziplock bag of meat bits goes into the refrigerator to reserve for when I’m finishing up the soup.

An hour before bedtime, I turn off the burner under the stockpot. Using big tongs I remove the bones to a carving or cutting board. I let them sit for ten minutes until the they are cool enough to handle, then I retrieve the ziplock of “soup meat” from the refrigerator and position the trash can nearby. I repeat the process I did before, sorting to trashcan, ziplock and crock pot. (Crock pot this time instead of stockpot) Aside from using a different pot, the only variation is that on this round the bones get cracked with a channel lock plier thingie as I rend the frame apart. Once again, I cover the bones with water, then I set the crock pot on low where it will simmer all night.

Before going to bed I have one more turkey task: “sorting” the broth in the stockpot to ensure that it is free of bones, and “rescue” bits of turkey by adding them to the ziplock. Now, I’m ready for bed, and I put the whole stockpot in the refrigerator.  (In the place that the uncooked turkey occupied the previous day.)

The next morning, sometime after breakfast, I check the crock o’ bones and add a bit more water if they aren’t still submerged.  Next, I retrieve the stockpot from the fridge, skim the fat off the top, and put it on a burner on low to medium heat as I process veggies to add to the soup.

I run a large onion through the shredder disk on my food processor. (Finely chopped with a knife would work great too.) Still using the food processor, I thinly slice a bunch of carrots (5? 10? Dunno), and 3-5 ribs of cellery. I usually run a bunch of broccoli through the food processor too.

I peel a full bulb of garlic and slice each clove in half or fourths with a paring knife, and hand slice/chop two anaheim peppers. (I’ve used bell peppers sometimes, instead.)  If I have them,  I dice a cup or two of mushrooms as well.

All the veggies are thrown into the simmering stockpot, then seasoned–usually a couple tablespoons of Herbs de Province, as well as an extra bay leaf, and an extra tablespoon of parsley.

At this point, I unplug the crock o’ bones that has been simmering all this time and let it cool down and put it in the refrigerator. (Stockpot with broth and veggies keeps simmering.)

After a few hours, I tend the crock o’ bones again, skimming off fat, then throwing away all bones and gristle. I leave any marrow that’s boiled out or other nourishing stuff in the water. After carefully ensuring there’s no bone bits remaining I dump the crock’s contents into the simmering stockpot.

Now it is finally time to add the turkey meat to the turkey soup! I fetch the ziplock “soup meat” bag from the fridge. By this point after several rounds of bone picking, this gallon ziplock is usually full to capacity with the yummy turkey. (If it is scant, I add a some “casserole grade” turkey that I bagged up in individual meal sized portions at the beginning of the process.) Dump the turkey into the soup, and let it simmer while reading books to the children until lunch.

Just before lunch I taste the broth.  If it tastes weak, I add chicken boullion.  If the flavor is rich and full enough without the boost, I just add sea salt to taste.   Black pepper gets ground in to taste as well. At this point I like it to be a little extra rich, and very thick–almost more of stew or casserole consistency than soup.   I like it condensed to conserve freezer space. It can be diluted later when thawed.  For the same reason, I prefer to not add the rice to the big pot. I freeze the “base” and add noodles, rice or barley depending on my whim come serving day. (Wild rice is the best! Yesterday for lunch I served it with a blend of wild rice and brown rice mixed in–”economy wild”, gives the flavor but a little less pricy.)

On serving/thawing days I also often add some frozen peas, and some chopped scallions or fresh chives if I have them available. They are better added fresh at the end because they get overcooked easily in the big batch.

It is really pretty easy, I’m just verbose.

(Edited to add: A few years later I discovered the cookbook Nourishing Traditions–now I make my turkey stock the Nourishing Traditions way.  It’s easier, and better!)


2 thoughts on “Turkey: Oven to Soup in 1000 words

  1. quel travail!!!!
    Herbes de Provence…my husbands family comes from that part of France…beautifull!
    You are very courageous!

  2. I have saved this post in my favorites…thank you so much for taking the time to type it all out!

    ~Kirky 🙂

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